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Here’s How to Use Leftover Coffee

A pair of hands lifting out a coffee filter with wet coffee grounds

That leftover coffee sitting on your counter just might be able to transform your home, cooking, and beauty routines. Just a few easy steps and your everyday leftovers can make a big difference—and we’ve got the scoop on how.

Both leftover coffee (as in the actual liquid) and coffee grounds can actually have an array of uses within your home. They can perk up your food and drink, repel pests, and turn into DIY solutions for plenty of issues that crop up in your daily life—plus, you’re improving your sustainable habits! Here are just a few ways you can get the most out of those caffeinated leftovers.

Table of Contents

Make Coffee Ice Cubes
Bake with Leftover Coffee
Keep Pests Away with Coffee Grounds
Remove Stubborn Odors with Coffee Grounds
Use Coffee Grounds to Exfoliate
Repair Scratches on Wood Furniture with Coffee Grounds
Clean Dishes and Cookware with Coffee Grounds

Make Coffee Ice Cubes

A silver cup of milk pouring into a glass of iced coffee

If you have some leftover coffee after pouring yourself your morning cup, don’t just let it go cold and get poured down the drain. Instead, turn that leftover joe into coffee ice cubes.

Coffee ice cubes are an easy hack for a few quick and tasty coffee drinks. Add them to fresh hot coffee to cool it down and make an instant iced coffee without watering down the drink, or pour some milk over the cubes and let them dissolve to create an instant iced latte. Simply pour your leftover brewed coffee into a clean ice cube tray, let freeze, and then pop them out when you’re ready to make your iced coffee drink.

Bake with Leftover Coffee

A chocolate cake and a silver cake pan; a yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting with a slice cut out

Coffee can be a delicious addition to many baked goods, but you’ll want to double check that you’re using a version that has enough flavor to pack a punch. There are many, many recipes that include brewed coffee as an ingredient, which can be a great way to use up some of what’s left over. If you’re DIY’ing it, however, you might not be able to use certain kinds of coffee—or if you do, you might not get as much flavor.

Adding a teaspoon or so of fresh espresso is a popular hack to deepen and highlight chocolate flavor, whether in a baked item like a cake or brownie, or in a chocolate ganache or frosting. The idea is usually to get just enough espresso to enrich the chocolate flavor without making the recipe simply coffee-flavored. You can certainly add a teaspoon or so of regular brewed coffee to your favorite recipes, too, but you won’t get as much depth of flavor.

Keep Pests Away with Coffee Grounds

A woman putting used coffee grounds in a garden

We already know that coffee is good for plants, but it can also keep the pests away so you can enjoy your yard. While the smell of coffee might be heavenly to us, caffeine is downright toxic to a whole array of bugs and other pests—which makes it a great, all-natural pest repellent. Between the smell and the toxicity, coffee grounds can help to keep away mosquitoes, beetles, flies, slugs, and other home and garden pests.

Just follow these steps for a pest-free home:

  1. Collect used coffee grounds after brewing.
  2. Set in small bowls around the area you want to keep pest-free.
  3. Alternately (or in addition to Step 2), sprinkle some of the grounds around your patio, outdoor seating, and/or doors to your house.
  4. If you have a garden, sprinkle some coffee grounds around the perimeter.

It’s a win all around. You get a cleaner, pest-free patio and garden, and it’s all done using a sustainable, natural option, reducing waste, and avoiding toxic, smelly chemicals.

Remove Stubborn Odors with Coffee Grounds

A person rubbing coffee grounds onto their hands

Did you know that those leftover coffee grounds can actually help remove odors in your home? The chemical composition of coffee allows it to absorb odor-causing compounds, neutralizing them and keeping your home smelling great.

All you have to do is let your leftover coffee grounds dry out, then try one of these ideas:

  • Pour a small amount into a container or bowl and leave in the fridge or freezer to absorb food smells.
  • Pour a small amount into an old thin sock or pantyhose and tie off to make a deodorizing sachet for your closet, gym bag, or anywhere else.
  • Keep a small bowl by the sink and use some to rub over your hands after handling smelly foods like garlic or onions.

Use Coffee Grounds to Exfoliate

A woman with a ponytail applies coffee grounds to her face

Leftover coffee grounds can turn into a beauty hack you’ll wish you knew about sooner. The abrasiveness of the grounds (especially when combined with another natural abrasive like coarse brown sugar) exfoliates your face and body and sloughs away dead, dry skin. Plus, the caffeine content can help rejuvenate your skin, leaving it looking smoother and brighter.

Follow these steps for an easy DIY face and body scrub:

  1. Combine equal parts used coffee grounds and brown sugar.
  2. Add a small amount of coconut oil or jojoba oil, just until the ingredients form a loose paste.
  3. Apply to the skin, gently massaging as you go to get the exfoliating properties.
  4. Let sit for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Rinse and wipe thoroughly using cool water.

Repair Scratches on Wood Furniture with Coffee Grounds

A hand wipes a scratch on a wood furniture leg

No matter how careful you are, it’s inevitable: you’re going to end up with scratches, scrapes, or just wear and tear on your wood furniture. Leftover coffee, however, can be your saving grace to make it look like new again. Coffee can leave behind dark, hard-to-remove stains, which is a pain for your laundry but great for “restaining” small scratches on your wood furniture.

Try this simple process to cover up scratches on your furniture:

  1. Let wet coffee grounds cool completely.
  2. Scoop a small amount of the cooled, still-wet grounds onto the scratched area.
  3. Let sit for a few minutes. The longer it sits, the darker the “stain” will be, so you may need to check the grounds more frequently for lighter-colored wood.
  4. Gently wipe away with a soft cloth.
  5. If the stain is not dark enough on top of the scratch, repeat the process until it is sufficiently “repaired.”

Clean Dishes and Cookware with Coffee Grounds

Two hands using blue dish sponges on dirty pans

Because coffee grounds are both abrasive and somewhat acidic, they can work great to break down grime and get your dishes, pots, pans, and utensils clean. You won’t need much—a small amount of grounds goes a long way towards cleaning. Just be sure your dishes aren’t particularly delicate or porous, since coffee grounds can potentially stain those pieces.

Follow these steps to tackle stubborn grime on your dishware:

  1. Begin by rinsing the dishes with your usual warm, soapy water.
  2. Put a couple of teaspoons of coffee grounds on the dishes where you want to scrub.
  3. Scrub gently using a regular dish sponge.
  4. Repeat if needed until clean.
  5. Wash and rinse as normal to remove the coffee residue.

You can also follow similar steps for cleaning kitchen surfaces like sinks or grills. Just be careful to avoid using them on particularly porous or unfinished materials, as the coffee residue may seep in and leave stains behind.

When you’ve got some leftover coffee and coffee grounds, don’t throw it out. Try these easy tips to make your home and garden thrive with a little help from your favorite caffeine source!

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